Monday, November 30, 2009

The Conservative tangled Afghanistan web

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17
Between sharing an office with another consultant and the start of ski season, it has been hard to find time to blog lately. Even with regards the Afghan scandal. This has been especially hard given the self-incriminating actions of the Conservatives. Luckily there are lots of good bloggers handling the case. Heck, even a Harper Hagiographer has recognized the Conservative trash talk.

What I have been speculating on is: Why? Why would they do something this stupid. Why expose themselves to this?

I have my suspicions that this was all tied up in the drive to paint Harper as the Great Leader. From the moment of taking office the Conservatives worked on portraying Harper as a War Prime Minister, much as Rove framed Bush as a War President. Stephen Harper - strong, confident and manly. A Leader. Graham/Dion - weak, vacillating and effeminate. Not A Leader.

The Afghanistan intervention served Harper's purpose. Harper needed a war. And it had to be a "just" war. A "heroic" war with a newly muscular Canada marching as one behind Harper to deliver Afghanistan from itself.

Any hints that Canadians were a party to torture, even at arms length, ruined the narrative. Allegations that prisoners turned over to Afghan authorities were tortured had to be suppressed.

But truth will out. Now they are tangled up in their web of deceit and it looks good on them. If only innocent people didn't have to suffer.
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Monday, November 23, 2009


Lacrosse is a great game and it takes courage to play it. It exposes the failings of those who are afraid to go to the front of the net. Lacrosse allows you to identify people with leadership skills. In Lacrosse, leaders go where the action is and face their opposition.

I am proud to think that this sport has been recognized as part of our heritage. It deserves to recognized by the Prime Minister. At the appropriate time.

It deserves better than to be used as cover by a coward.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your money, their private jets

Everyday our Conservative overlords take us further down the path to banana dominion-dom. One thing that First Worlders often tut-tut over is when Third World despots live high on the hog while the citizens suffer and the economy stagnates. How can they be allowed to do this without being held to account, we ask?

We live in a glass house. During the worst recession in 70years, Conservatives fly on private jets, enjoy the food and drink at unprecendented rates and seek to avoid accountability.
The Harper government says it is unable to provide the names of passengers who have flown on its fleet of Challenger executive jets since 2006 because it would take longer than a month-and-a-half to assemble the list.

DND did release figures that show that the average cost of feeding passengers has increased sharply since the Tories formed government. It cost taxpayers about $66 for every flying hour to provide food and non-alcoholic beverages to the VIPs aboard the jets in 2005-06, the last full fiscal year under a Liberal government.

But in 2008-09, the food and drink costs jumped to $110 per flying hour.

But, but the Liberals.

During past Liberal governments, DND routinely released the flight manifests with the names of the passengers and details about the origin and destination of each flight. It is unclear why DND was unable to provide similar information to McTeague.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An example of why I don't lose any sleep over Harper's many attempts to manipulate his image

Because he is a jerk. And once a jerk always a jerk. Take for instance his current trip to the sub-continent, which is really a tax payer funded play for the South Asian vote.
Controversy and chaos marked Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Golden Temple visit.

Harper refused to partake of prasad at Darshani Deodi after being dissuaded by his aide, Alisa Mohammed. He also declined langar.

SGPC officials said she also made them vacate their information office prior to the premier’s arrival. “When we objected, she said she had already spoken to the SGPC secretary on the matter. It is for the first time that we have suffered such humiliation at hands of a foreigner in our own office,” said a senior SGPC official, expressing resentment over the behaviour of the Canadian PM’s staff.
Kind of makes me think my comment over at BCL yesterday was a bit prescient.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The path to profitability for Canadian newspapers

I have heard lots of moaning from newspaper publishers about how tough times are and how they are losing money hand over fist because no one buys their papers.  There are people handing out free newspapers in the morning.  They have a harder time getting rid of these things then they do Coyote tickets in Phoenix.  There is a solution staring them in the face.

Politics sells.  But not about reorganizations within the OLO.  Scandals sell.  Not Page 3 Sunshine Girls.  Political scandals.  Stuff people actually care about.  Like this.
The federal transport minister's office privately pleaded with Canada's big airlines to step up their lobby campaign to kill a proposed passenger bill of rights even as the minister publicly rallied behind the popular initiative, according to internal documents obtained by Canwest News Service.

This is the type of story that will, if you have the reputation for publishing it, sell papers or bring people to your website.  But I couldn't find this on any of the ones I looked at.

Perhaps negative stories about the Conservatives get spiked by editors following the dictates of their corporate owners.  The realities of the financial losses will force them to back you.

Maybe you are concerned that under the rigid message control of the Harper government you might get blackballed by Soudas.  Big deal.  Transcribing PMO press releases in an attempt to find a fictitious balance hasn't sold you any papers.  Print the story.  Let the PMO know that you will be waiting in the foyer with the other reporters ready to scrum.  If he is too much of a coward to face the media, report that.  Prominently.

Notwithstanding the piano man moment, no one but the whacko minority likes this guy.  Give people a chance to get angry at his government for being two faced and they will jump at it.  But be prepared.  Buy newsprint and ink futures.  You wouldn't want to run out.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Pierre Polievre is a drip

Not in the sense one might normally assume with this most aggressively asocial of the misanthropic portion of the Conservative caucus. For this:
On Friday, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre told reporters that "any decision to ask for Mr. Khadr’s return to Canada is a decision for the democratically elected government of Canada and not for the courts.”

Asked whether that meant the government would ignore the Supreme Court's decision if it rules against it, Poilievre repeated that Khadr's fate should be decided by an elected government and not the courts.

He is akin to the drop of water at the bottom of the smallest crack in a mountain. With every diurnal freeze-thaw cycle, the water drop will expand to fill every crevice and then thaw. The next night it freezes again and the crack grows a bit wider. It will keep doing this until the crack grows and the rock falls apart. By refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of the court (that is why they call it the Supreme Court after all), this Mouth Of Hauron has stated that Harper holds himself above the law of the land in a seemingly innocuous way. At first glance it comes across as a small matter. And coming from a twerp who is prone to bombast like Polievre it doesn't appear too serious. That is probably why it did not prompt much serious reaction. But he was sent on the task by the Dark Lord himself. There is no freelancing with this government.

This tactic is along the same lines as Harper's Picador and John "Catapult" Baird. Each of them has laid out the disrespect they have for any edifice that stands in their way. Even Harper joins in on this task by wearing away at the Governor General's office by undermining it's authority and usurping it's prerogatives.

There may come a point when it is time for a more senior member of the government to dispute the rule of law. Perhaps during a close election or some other issue critical to the government's survival. Then the fact they have laid the groundwork for ignoring the checks and balances of the government will bear fruit. Everyday and in every way imaginable and several that are not, the Conservatives and cracking apart the foundations of Canada.

H/T to the Canis latrans that has wandered to the side of the valley upwind of the smelter. Although I had a marvelous weekend away, I have been wanting to post on this since I read her post on Friday.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Harper Youth

Heading out for the weekend so I will refer you to others for the gist of this post.Recommend this Post

John (Just call me Parsons) Ivison

Parsons was Winston's fellow-employee at the Ministry of Truth. He was a fattish but active man of paralysing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms -- one of those completely unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom, more even than on the Thought Police, the stability of the Party depended.

Part 1 Chapter 2
George Orwell

So I started the day ready to call "As if" on Don Martin's claim that he just happened to get stopped by a policeman who just happened to volunteer a viewpoint that nicely tied into the theme of his blog entry.  Yeah, I'm sure it happened just like that.   Mr. Martin once again proved himself worthy of the honorific "Head Harper Hagiographer"

But that post had to be tossed aside once Par-vison hit submit on this opus:
The Tory guide to a blue Canada (MEIB) (Typos in quote are all his)

Anew opinion poll put the Conservatives 10 points ahead of their Liberal rivals yesterday, but the real cause for celebration in Tory ranks is their creeping victory in the brand war they believe is the foundation for long-term electoral success.


The new guide is a 60-page potted history lesson that walks the reader through the highlights of Canada's pre-and post-Confederation story, pointing out the symbols, values and heroes who have made this country what it is -- that is, one currently run by the Conservatives.

It might easily be dismissed as a glossy brochure, but that underestimates the thought and effort that went into it. This is not tinsel, it's symbolism and is yet another incremental step in the re-branding of Canada into a conservative country, full of people more inclined to vote Conservative.

 Ivison lays out the evidence that taxpayers money is being used to cement the Harper Party's hold on power (aka propaganda).  As a member of The Fourth Estsate he is surely going to denounce this with all the sound and fury he can muster.

I am afraid not.  Rather than excoriate Conservatives for propaganda he ridicules Liberals for
choosing leaders on the basis of their ability to weigh the evidence, and put forward the best facts, issues and policies.
To Ivison this is a bad thing.  Back to 1984 and life imitating art.

Parsons, his attention caught by the trumpet call, sat listening with a sort of gaping solemnity, a sort of edified boredom. He could not follow the figures, but he was aware that they were in some way a cause for satisfaction.

Repeat after Ivison:

"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status."

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Book recommendations for a November Saturday

Since I found out that the Library carries audiobooks that can loaded onto my iPod, I have been listening to lots of them lately. There never seems to be enough time to read everything that catches my fancy so choosing to listen to some while walking Energetic the labradoodle or riding in to work is a good alternative. Sometimes it is for guilty pleasures (e.g.: Grisham - The Associate was disappointing) but quite often the list includes serious books. This include Blink, Outliers and A Brief History Of Time (Rather than re-read it).

Which brings me to the recommendations. We currently live under a government determined to remake Canada overtly or by stealth. Part of Harper's dream is an absolute free market system. Laissez faire capitalism was the prevailing economic belief during the Gilded Age and led to the Great Depression. I would like to mention two books that remind me of what we have to be on guard against.

The first is The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. At the time of it's initial publication it was primarily popular for the expose of poor packing practices. But it is also relevant for the picture it paints of the immigrants forced to work under appalling conditions.

The second is Down And Out In Paris And London by George Orwell. It gives one an idea of what it would be like through a recession with all government supports taken away.

Now you have something to do today.
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Friday, November 6, 2009

If you don't like it, grow a backbone

More whining from The Jellyfish Media. This time it is the photojournalists. But I suspect they are more concerned that this will result in their rice bowl being broken than distasteful image manipulation by the PMO. Ignore the ones sent by the PMO and run ones in which he looks dorky. Should be easy enough to shoot those.Recommend this Post

Mike Duffy, Harper's picador

In a very rare occasion, The Dean of The Harper Hagiographers lays out a slight and tangential criticism of Mr. Angry (MEIB):
Congratulations Senator Mike Duffy, you've finally done it.

With his wild rant on a CBC national politics show this week, the television icon has accomplished the difficult feat of offending all those in his parliamentary orbit -- his former journalistic occupation, the Conservative party, senators, MPs and even the prime minister who appointed him.

Anyone who thinks Harper was offended by this or any of Duffy's other antics is unaware of the reason for his appointment. Mike Duffy has done nothing but discredit the Senate. That is the whole point. As with the manufactured tiff with the Governor General, the aim is to wear away at the institutions of Canada. To lower them in the eyes of the public so that there is less resistance to the abolition of the state.

In this way, Duffy is like a picador, stabbing at the Senate, weakening it so that Harper the Matador (I wouldn't be surprised if he dresses up for the part in the privacy of 24 Sussex) can deliver the coup de grace.

Those who love Canada are offended by Duffy. I doubt this is the case with Harper.

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Mike Duffy was an excellent appointment to the Senate

He perfectly encapsulates Harper and the Conservatives.Recommend this Post

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Our Jellyfish media

A long time ago when Extreme and Occasional were babies, Eternal and I read the Barbara Coloroso book "Kids are worth it" A key takeaway was the three parenting types: A Brick Wall, A Jellyfish and The Oak Tree. I would like to focus on The Jellyfish (MEIB)
...But sometimes, despite our best intentions, we handle things in a way that may not have the desired outcome.

It seems there are many parents who let their children do what they want, buy them most every thing they ask for, and let them get by without any household responsibilities. The children may enjoy having parents that remind us a little of a jellyfish: parents who say no, but will give in with a little begging and pushing. These parents say, "don't do that", but do not give the child any consequences should he or she "do it" anyway. They have no firm boundaries or guidelines, causing the children to continue pushing the limits just to see what the "real" limit is.

This type of parenting may work without any serious consequences until the children become teenagers. As teens, the children often begin pushing limits in harmful ways, such as smoking, driving too fast, staying out past curfew, and having sex. If parents try to establish firmer control at this point by setting limits and consequences, the teen will likely become defiant, resulting in a stormy teen/parent relationship. The parents may wonder what they did wrong; after all, they have been good parents, giving their child everything.

No why I am referring to this on a political blog? This is why. The media enables this behaviour by these contemptible Conservatives. And just like a jellyfish parent, they get angry but then relent and let petulant Peter Van Loan and other Ministers ignore reasonable questions. A great example was Robert Fife during the last election campaign. He was pig biting made when the RCMP blocked access to Harper at a photo-op but soon forgot all about it and resumed cheerleading for Mr. Angry.

They have no one to blame but themselves. Regardless of the party, if a politician shows this kind of contempt for the public's right to know the answer to a reasonable direct question, rip him a new one and keep ripping till he does.

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Quick thought on Nervous Nellies and Action Plan signs

Jim Travers points out that as for all governments, a week is a lifetime. If the government had been defeated, would we not now be campaigning against Conservatives defending, amongst other things; the H1N1 fiasco, the Action Plan disaster and other follies?

With regards the Action Plan, I was thinking that, living in the heart of Con-Land as I do, I have not seen a single sign. Could it be that they are not only ignoring the Opposition ridings but are also neglecting the safe seats as well?Recommend this Post

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

English is a funny language

Just changing a single word can totally alter the meaning of a sentence.  As an example of what I mean, be careful of the usage of gloves versus mittens.  Gloves can be used as a noun.  Mittens can be used as a verb and a noun.  Let me explain.

If you refer to milking gloves, this is what you mean. So you might expect that milking mittens refers to something similar.  It actually refers to this.
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Looking at a future without the gun registry

Today's big issue is the gun registry vote. I support the registry despite it's flaws. It may, however, meet a sad fate. The politics of this issue has been well discussed by others. But if it is to be repealed, what are the implications?

Of the two that first come to mind, one is that the Conservatives lose a thumping tub. Irrational hatred of the gun registry is a strong bit of connective tissue for the Conservatives. Their love of wedge politics will result in a sacrifice of this issue for future fundraising and rabble rousing tactics. This is the best to be made of a bad deal.

The other is that at some point, a tragedy will occur which could have been prevented or mitigated by the registry. And the need for a registry will again become apparent. Steve V has a good post on the rationale for a free vote. I believe he has a point. Free votes are great but they carry personal responsibility. That future tragedy will be on the conscience of those who vote to repeal the registry to save their political skins. This does not apply to Conservatives. Their sins are beyond expiation.Recommend this Post

On this day. In the Globe and Mail. On the subject of the H1N1 scandal

Jane Taber actually blogged something interesting.
And then she pointed out that former Harper aide Ken Bossenkool is a lobbyist for GSK.
Ken Bossenkool is one of the old gang. A True Blue Canada hating reformer. A member of The Calgary School. Harper and Bossenkool go way back. And this isn't the first time a drug company has benefited by having Bossenkool lobby Harper (MEIB).
The Globe failed, however, to note Boessenkool is one of Stephen Harper's closest associates. Nor did it reveal he is a registered lobbyist working for a drug company benefitting from the surprise inclusion in the federal budget, passed last night, of $300 million for cervical cancer vaccine for girls.

Boessenkool has been Stephen Harper's close friend for years and a trusted advisor and confidant in almost all of Harper's leadership and political campaigns. He is a long-time Reform-Alliance-Conservative operative and is registered to lobby the federal government.

The Ottawa Citizen reported in February that Boessenkool registered to lobby the federal government on immunization policy on behalf of Merck Frosst Canada.

In his filings with the Registrar of Lobbyists, Boessenkool listed as his potential points of contact, the Prime Minister's Office, Health Canada, Industry Canada, Privy Council Office and MPs. ...


Those who read his article deserve at the least to know of Boessenkool's long and close association with Harper and the Right. The two men became friends in 1993 when Harper became the MP for Calgary West and Boessenkool began to work for Reform MP Ray Speaker. ...

Still smarting from their loss, Harper, Boessenkool, Tom Flanagan, Ted Morton and others wrote their infamous "firewall" letter ... When Harper ran for the leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada in 2003, Boessenkool quickly stepped out of the opposition offices and back onto Harper's campaign team. ...

Boessenkool's relationship with Harper goes well beyond the professional. ... The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper. In the book, Mackey describes Boessenkool as an evangelical Christian whose children are home schooled, and as "another of Harper's spiritual mentors listened to both at the economic and the faith levels."

So to connect a few dots. A large part of the hold-up in the H1N1 vaccine delivery is due to the contract being awarded to a single company. The lobbyist for that company is a very close friend and associate of Stephen Harper with the demonstrated ability to seal the deal when it comes to landing big contracts with Health Canada. This explains some of the lame attempts to blame the Liberals for the sole source contract issue.

This issue just moved a whole lot closer to the PMO.

Update: I believe this link between Harper and the sole source of the vaccines is important so I have bumped this up.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

A question and a statement

First a question for the "hive mind". Can anyone provide an estimate of the number of lives lost due to the Listeriosis, Nuclear Medicine and H1N1 fiascos?

Secondly a statement: If the Conservatives think they are going to dodge criticism about their handling of H1N1 by dodging questions in this fashion (MEIB):
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq arrived for Question Period today, plugged herself in and repeatedly spoke the lines of the PMO-supplied H1N1 vaccine message track.

“Mr. Speaker, six million doses were produced ahead of schedule. As soon as they were available and authorized they were transferred to the provinces and territories for their roll-out. We will see thousands more this week and one million more next week.”Ministers are allowed 35 seconds to answer. Ms. Aglukkaq never went over her time limit. Her tempo and inflection never changed. ...

It didn’t matter, however, what was said or asked. Ms. Aglukkaq did not and would not veer from the script, a script that she has been using for days now. ...
And Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have been so proud, had he been there.

I have a feeling this sort of disrespect for the representatives of the majority of Canadians was possible when people weren't paying attention. Now that Canadians are connected to the issue, continuing this strategy will do them nothing but harm.
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H1N1 criticism is starting to build

Who is Harper going to have thrown under the Big Blue Bus. Express your opinion on the poll to the left side of the blog.

Vote early! Vote Often!
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In praise of Canadian Commentariat Critical Consistency

Canadians are fortunate for a long list of gifts. Some natural and some man made. One of these which does not receive it's due often enough is a punditry which scrutinizes the politics of the country with an unbiased eye.

For instance, in some states the people are fed an unending stream of editorials favourable to the government while the opposition figures are made to look fumbling and indecisive. Not so in the glorious Dominion of Canada where pundits have rightly criticized Ignatieff for not outlining his policies so they may be politely critiqued by the pundits and the other parties.

This is disgraceful. Look at the Conservatives. They have outlined a clear policy on a variety of issues and are following through. On issues such as Senate Reform, the gun registry, running a deficit or any number of other issues. No political games here.

So as you go through your day be thankful for our pundits. They are a big part of the glorious state of our political landscape today.
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Is Harper making H1N1 a Canadian political acronym for Katrina?

On august 29, 2005 while Hurricane Katrina hit the Ninth Ward, President Bush was focused on PR events such as a birthday cake for John McCain or getting a guitar presented to him. This was a watershed moment in the history of that sorry regime. As the devastation became evident the last vestige of credibility was torn away.

In another of the uncanny parallels between Bush and Mr. Angry, THE HARPER GOVERNMENT focused on using taxpayer money on an unprecedented partisan ad campaign at the expense of properly managing their part of the immunization program. Harper has been made to pay a remarkably low price for his incompetence on the economic, medical, Afghanistan and other files. But as W found out, turning points can come fast and furious.

Let us hope that this parallel has a far less devastating impact in the real world.

Update: Penlan has an example of the Conservatives not knowing when to stop digging.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Is H1N1 vaccine shortage a game changer?

The Conservatives have displayed a disgraceful level of incompetence on past medical files and never had to pay the price. The media applied Teflon allowed the ordure of the Listeriosis outbreak and Nuclear Isotope bungle slide right off of them. Why this happened is puzzling unless it is a result of a lot of voters thinking that those cock-ups won't hurt them. Sad to think that people are so selfish but that may be the case.

But the long line-ups are a sign that a lot of people are frightened by this pandemic. As it becomes ever more clear that a large segment of the population are going to be affected by this latest bit of incompetence the shellac might start to flake off a bit leaving open the possibility of them getting really shellacked.
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Constant Vigilance; explain yourself

I have been told that sometimes my references are a bit obscure. Take as example my previous post. Or so I have been led to believe. I was certain you got it. One of the main reasons for using that Youtube, besides the fact it had Jimmy Durante in it, was that the name of the band was "The Grass Roots". As in the grassroots the Reform movement was based on. So, the Conservatives should listen to the grassroots and live in today rather than dwell on the past.

Get it?

Oh, never mind.
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Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today

Question: What is the obvious sign that the Conservatives are worried about the Stimulating Stimulus Scandal? Three guesses. First two don't count.

Answer: A transparent attempt to deflect attention to the government that fell FOUR YEARS AGO. AdScam! AdScam!! AdScam!!!

I have a great love in my heart for all Canadians. Even the deluded Harperoids. (Kind of rhymes with hemorrhoids. Eww. But I digress.). In evidence of this I would like to encourage Mr. Del Mastro to live for today by posting this:

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